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Seminar: Building Trustworthy Systems for Fighting Modern Threats

Peng Gao

Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech

Friday, November 5, 2021
2:30pm - 3:45pm
2150 Torgersen Hall


The increased opaqueness in computing systems has made them vulnerable to sophisticated cyber attacks (e.g., Advanced Persistent Threats). Consequently, many businesses have been plagued with huge losses (e.g., Equifax, Target, Yahoo). How can we gain visibility into currently opaque computing systems and defend them from sophisticated attacks? How can we remain aware of the fast-evolving threat landscape and proactively gain insights into the most dangerous threats?

In this talk, I will cover multiple systems our research group has built for addressing these pressing issues. I will primarily discuss the advanced threat protection (ATP) stack, which brings transparency into computing systems (via ubiquitous system auditing) and connects the dots across system activities in various ways (forensically vs. real-time, manually vs. semi-automatically vs. automatically) to fight advanced threats. The ATP stack is multi-disciplinary, using techniques from system security, operating system, database, compiler, machine learning, and natural language processing. It includes multiple research efforts and has had real-world impact. I will also discuss our recent line of research on using AI for automated threat intelligence management and analysis.


Peng Gao is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. He is a Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) Faculty Fellow. He was a Postdoctoral Researcher at UC Berkeley from 2019 to 2021. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2019, and his B.E. from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2013. His research interest lies in security and privacy issues in systems and networks. His work centers on creating scalable, secure, and intelligent systems to solve real-world problems, with publications at multiple top-tier computer science conferences (e.g., USENIX Security, USENIX ATC, ACM CCS, ICDE, ICSE), patents, and industry adoption. He is the recipient of multiple honors and awards (e.g., 2018 CSAW Applied Research Finalist, 2020 Microsoft Security AI Research Award, 2020 Amazon Research Award, 2021 Cisco Research Award, 2021 CCI Cybersecurity Research Collaboration Award).